I am joint Assistant Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology at the Sam Noble Museum and Assistant Professor of Geosciences at the University of Oklahoma. I am also a research associate at the National Museum of Natural History and the American Museum of Natural History.

As an invertebrate paleontologist and evolutionary biologist, my research integrates specimen-based data from the fossil record with phylogenetic and statistical methods to better understand patterns of biodiversity change throughout Earth history. I am particularly interested in the influence of geological processes on major features of biological evolution, including the origin of higher taxonomic lineages, their adaptations, and the interplay between ecology and environmental change during major evolutionary radiations and mass extinctions throughout the history of life.

I have wide-ranging expertise in systematics of fossil invertebrates, but most of my work has focused on the exclusively marine Phylum Echinodermata (starfish, sea urchins, and kin), especially the Class Crinoidea (sea lilies and feather stars), and have published extensively on aspects of echinoderm systematics, taxonomy, and evolution.

Email: wrightdf@ou.edu


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“I salute the echinoderms as a noble group especially designed to puzzle the zoologist.” –Libbie H. Hyman (1955: p. vi)